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Jocking Jameson (Face-Off Legacy #4)
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Gamer. Lover of comic books. Nerd-jock who will do anything to score. That about sums up Jameson O’Connor.
He’s also my friend. One of the few people on campus who knows my secret. I don’t know what I was thinking when I kissed him. I must have lost my mind when I asked him on a date… or agreed to cook for his teammates.
I never expected to fall for him. But Jamie knew every button to press. Every level to hit. And he scored every time… until a threat from his past changed everything.
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Every story has a villain. Mine is staring at me from across the room. All it takes is one look from her and my pulse races. Cecelia Carmichael, my ex-girlfriend, stands one booth over from mine with her father, the chairman of 10X Games. Kevin Carmichael is all fake smiles reserved for the public, busy showing off his brilliant daughter to his business partners along with his latest technology.
Cece, as I’ve known her since we were kids, isn’t only beautiful and rich, she’s one of the smartest people I know. I haven’t stopped staring at her since we set up our booth for the Gamer Nation Convention in Las Vegas. Just knowing she’s here is enough of a distraction. And that’s what she wants—to distract me. Because she only cares about advancing her career as a video game developer and taking over her father’s company. I was nothing more than a sub-plot in her story, a detour on her way to the next big thing.
“I need you focused, J,” my dad says, tugging on my arm. “This launch is important.”
I peel my eyes away from Cece to look at my dad whose forehead is furrowed with worry. He’s a nervous wreck about the unveiling of Mage Wars, his latest game in The Fallen Universe he created before I was born. My dad is like a god in this world. He has fans around the world who wait impatiently for each release of the role-playing game.
“I know. Don’t worry.” I pat my dad on the shoulder. “I got it covered.”
He flashes a closed-mouth smile that looks forced. “I hope so. Any time you go anywhere near Cecelia, you can’t function.”
I laugh so hard I snort. “Not even close.”
Dad’s eyes travel from Cece back to me. “You look at her the way I look at your mother, except your mom looks back at me the same way. Cecelia only sees you as an opportunity, as someone to use. Don’t let her get in your head, Jamie.”
He’s not entirely off base. When Cece broke up with me three years ago, I never saw it coming. I was so in love with her I was blind to all the signs. They say you never forget your first love, and I’ll never forget Cece. Ever since she crushed me, I haven’t given another woman a chance. No one compares to Cece in any way. She just gets me, deep down to the very core of my soul. Or at least I thought she did. I thought we had an impenetrable connection.
“She’s your Gwen Stacy,” my dad says, referring to Spider-Man’s love interest in college.
Gwen was undoubtedly Spider-Man’s true love, killed by the Green Goblin in The Amazing Spider-Man. Even though he married Mary Jane Watson years after Gwen’s death, I always thought Gwen was ‘the one.’ Sometimes, I feel that way, like I will never get over Cece. And for that reason, I can’t argue with my dad.
Spider-Man is his favorite comic book character. He’s mine too. Even my best friend, Preston, whose full name is Peter Preston Parker, is named after the superhero, all because Alex Parker lost a bet to my dad. My dad is obsessed with Marvel Comics, and his love transferred to me. He drew inspiration from Stan Lee when he was creating his characters and worlds in The Fallen Universe. I often find myself doing the same thing when I’m dreaming up new games.
I grew up on comic books, Star Trek, video games, and computers. My dad is a geek to the core, a master creator of worlds, and the best man I know. I learned everything there is to know from him—except for hockey. I learned that from my grandfather, who was a famous hockey player in his day.
“My Mary Jane will come along eventually,” I assure him. “I’m not worried about girls right now. I have enough on my plate with hockey, school, and the new game I’m coding.”
The game Cece stole from me.
“How’s that coming along?”
Hmm… how do I answer his question?
I can’t tell him I let Cece demo it before she ripped it off. Admitting the truth would only lead to getting yelled at for something I already regret.
“It’s going,” I lie. “I should have a beta for you to check out next month, depending on how crazy it gets with school and my hockey schedule.”
“School comes first.” He flips open his laptop and sits behind the table I’m standing next to. “Have you thought about whether you want to come work for me full-time after you graduate?”
“Yes and no,” I admit. “I kinda want to see what happens with hockey.”
He peeks up from his keyboard and nods. “Well, if you change your mind, and I hope you do, you can always work for me. I’d always envisioned you, Mike, and Grace taking over the company after I retire.”